This week I was asked a great question for Activate Your Introvert, what’s the difference between an ambivert and an omnivert? Having answered it on the show, I thought I’d do a slightly longer written version too as it’s a great question.
Do omniverts and ambiverts exist?
Firstly some people don’t think that omniverts exist and others people debate the term ambivert. In fact, ambivert was in The Sun recently as they declared ambivert a new type of personality. Yes, I know we’ve been talking about ambiverts for ages, but the Sun is now catching up.
So, some people are just realising the term ambivert and others think introverts are just being silly shy snowflakes and wonder why their teams don’t perform well (yes, there are many leaders who don’t really understand their teams and the teams are not fully productive).
My answer is yes, ambivert and omnivert exist, but that’s only useful if we consider what we can do with the information.
The introvert / extrovert spectrum.
Introvert / Extrovert is a spectrum. The relevance of it is that knowing where you are on the spectrum and more importantly those you’re trying to influence, can allow you to improve your communication and influencing skills, ultimately improving productivity. Far too few managers and leaders consider the introverted 30-40% of their teams when wondering how to improve productivity and creativity.
An introvert can learn tactics to “appear” more extroverted and work more effectively in a world that has an extrovert bias. An extroverted leader can learn skills to help them work more effectively with introverts. We can all learn situational tactics, to improve performance, rather than just assuming you are the limits of your label.
What’s an ambivert?
An ambivert is someone whose behaviour is between introversion or extroversion. What the percentage of intro/ ambi/extroverts is, depends on what your cut off point is, and the only relevance of that is how you use the information to influence others (or yourself). The Latin origins of the prefix ambi means two of a pair or both.
What’s an omnivert?
Omniverts exhibit signs of both Extraversion and Introversion. The prefix ‘Omni-’ has Latin roots meaning “all, universally.” So omniverts, should we accept they exist, are those who can easily move between the extremes at will. That suggests that you may be genetically predisposed to be at one end of the spectrum or the other (sensitivity to Dopamine and Acetyl Choline), however you have learned skills to be able to slide up and down the spectrum. Yes, that’s the type of skills this website helps people to develop. So, do omniverts exist, or are they just skilled introverts/ extroverts?
The trouble with labels.
Labels can be very good at helping us to quickly identify a situation, but that doesn’t mean that’s the limit of that situation / person.
The labels introversion and extroversion, and any others you choose to accept, do not define us. You may have a staff member who is very introverted, but that doesn’t mean they “live down to” the ‘negative aspects’ of that label, you can help them learn useful behaviours. In that sense, we’re all omniverts (which is why I don’t think it’s a useful term).